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Intrasplenic Transplantation of Encapsulated Cells: A Novel Approach to Cell Therapy

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Cell therapy is likely to succeed clinically if cells survive at the transplantation site and are protected against immune rejection. We hypothesized that this could be achieved with intrasplenic transplantation of encapsulated cells because the cells would have instant access to oxygen and nutrients while being separated from the host immune system. In order to provide proof of the concept, primary rat hepatocytes and human hepatoblastoma-derived HepG2 cells were used as model cells. Rat hepatocytes were encapsulated in 100-kDa hollow fibers and cultured for up to 28 days. Rat spleens were implanted with hollow fibers that were either empty or contained 1 × 107 rat hepatocytes. Human HepG2 cells were encapsulated using alginate/poly-L-lysine (ALP) and also transplanted into the spleen; control rats were transplanted with free HepG2 cells. Blood human albumin levels were measured using Western blotting and spleen sections were immunostained for albumin. Hepatocytes in monolayer cultures remained viable for only 6–10 days, whereas the cells cultured in hollow fibers remained viable and produced albumin throughout the study period. Allogeneic hepatocytes transplanted in hollow fibers remained viable for 4 weeks (end of study). Free HepG2 transplants lost viability and function after 7 days, whereas encapsulated HepG2 cells remained viable and secreted human albumin at all time points studied. ALP capsules, with or without xenogeneic HepG2 cells, produced no local fibrotic response. These data indicate that intrasplenic transplantation of encapsulated cells results in excellent survival and function of the transplanted cells and that the proposed technique has the potential to allow transplantation of allo- and xenogeneic cells (e.g., pancreatic islets) without immunosuppression.

Keywords: Cel; Cell therapy; Key words: Cell transplantation

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Liver Support Research Laboratory, Department of Surgery, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, UCLA School of Medicine, Los Angeles, CA 90048

Publication date: June 1, 2002

More about this publication?
  • Cell Transplantation publishes original, peer-reviewed research and review articles on the subject of cell transplantation and its application to human diseases. To ensure high-quality contributions from all areas of transplantation, separate section editors and editorial boards have been established. Articles deal with a wide range of topics including physiological, medical, preclinical, tissue engineering, and device-oriented aspects of transplantation of nervous system, endocrine, growth factor-secreting, bone marrow, epithelial, endothelial, and genetically engineered cells, among others. Basic clinical studies and immunological research papers are also featured. To provide complete coverage of this revolutionary field, Cell Transplantation will report on relevant technological advances, and ethical and regulatory considerations of cell transplants. Cell Transplantation is now an Open Access journal starting with volume 18 in 2009, and therefore there will be an inexpensive publication charge, which is dependent on the number of pages, in addition to the charge for color figures. This will allow work to be disseminated to a wider audience and also entitle the corresponding author to a free PDF, as well as prepublication of an unedited version of the manuscript.

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